An estate planning attorney helps you understand the state and federal laws pertaining to how your assets will be inventoried, dispersed and taxed upon death. In this context, though, an “estate” can be any and all of the items that the deceased individual, or decedent, owns at the time of his or her death. An estate planning attorney advises you on legal considerations and helps implement your plan so in the event of your demise you can be sure your assets are handled the way you intended. Be it with a Will or a Trust, a skilled lawyer is a must to make things go well. Here are three reasons why an estate planning attorney will save you a lot of sleepless nights:
- Taxes, Taxes, Taxes
One of the chief concerns an individual will have for any surviving beneficiaries, especially if it is subject to taxes. An estate planning attorney can advise you on planning techniques to reduce your estate taxes, which are based on an asset threshold. In addition, there is a 10% inheritance tax if a beneficiary is a niece, nephew, distant relation, or non-relative. Finally, a skilled estate planning attorney can advise you on the income tax implications your death might have on your estate or your loved ones.
- Probate v. Non-Probate
A skilled estate planning attorney will advise you on the consequences of how you title your assets. Some assets require probate and others do not. They can help you decide if you want to hold assets jointly with a loved one, use beneficiaries, anticipate probating an estate, or even draft a trust to avoid probate altogether. A Maryland Estate Planning attorney can also assist you in creating a trust, to avoid probate, or a Will, if probate makes sense for you. Assets that are eligible for probate would be anything titled in the decedent’s name, also including property that the decedent owns jointly with another individual (known as “tenants in common”). These items could range anywhere from a vehicle, home, boat, etc. An estate planning attorney can explain all of this clearly to help you decide how to best handle your financial affairs.
- Personal Representative
An estate planning attorney also can draft a Will that names someone to be in charge of your estate and help plan for contingencies in the event of your inability to update your will, or their inability to be in charge. Absent planning ahead, if you have no Will, or the parties named cannot serve, you are stuck with the default rules on intestacy to determine your Personal Representative, which defaults to your next of kin and promote gridlock.
In the scope of challenges every individual must face in life, death is unavoidable. With that being said, by hiring an estate planning attorney, one can rest easy at night with peace of mind in knowing their assets are protected by an expertly done and well-conceived estate plan. As the saying goes: a good conscience is a soft pillow. A knowledgeable attorney can assist you in making sure your estate plan is done in accordance with Maryland law with minimal headaches. If you need help with your estate plan, get in touch today by calling (410) 848-4444, or to see what others have said about us, please read our client testimonials.